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Parents described as ‘monsters’ in horrific abuse that killed 10-month-old child in England

LONDON — An English couple who fought to get their baby back from children’s services and then abused him so badly the 10-month-old died just over a month later have been sentenced to life in prison for murder on Friday in what a judge described as a case of “unimaginable cruelty”.

Stephen Boden, 30, and Shannon Marsden, 22, showed no emotion as family members wept and a gasp echoed through the gallery as the sentence was handed down at Derby Crown Court.

Finley Boden, who the judge said was an adorable, happy and smiling baby, died on Christmas Day 2020.

The last weeks of his life were hell, according to his catalog of injuries: 57 broken bones, 71 bruises and burns to his hand, including one probably caused by a lighter.

“They acted together to inflict all his injuries on him and then hide him and allow him to die in such a horrific way,” a relative wrote in a statement read by prosecutor Mary Prior. “I can only describe you both as monsters for what you have done.”

The boy had been taken from the marijuana-smoking couple shortly after his birth in February 2020 because social workers said he was facing ‘significant harm’ at their squalid Chesterfield home and Boden had been sentenced for domestic violence, according to court records.

As part of their plea in family court to have the boy removed, Boden described the tot as “perfect” and Marsden said he was a “cuddly, chunky munchkin”.

The court decided to allow him to be reinstated part-time and, eventually, full-time. There had been a disagreement between the local social work authority who wanted a slower transition and the guardian, who wanted the parents to get full custody sooner.

The couple wanted the boy removed quickly and Boden assured the court in a statement that he had “worked very hard to bring about change”.

Boden’s lawyer, Simon Kealey, said there was no “sadistic motivation” for the murder.

“This is not a case in which the parents requested Finley’s return in order to complete his murder,” Kealey said. “The underlying motivation was to reunite his family.”

But once home, the prosecutor said the boy was subjected to “vicious and repeated assaults” which ultimately led to his “savage and prolonged” murder. His broken bones led to infections, including pneumonia and sepsis, which proved fatal.

Unlike photos shown in court of a tidy home when the couple sought custody, jurors at the trial in April saw footage of the house full of clutter, marijuana paraphernalia and formula spoiled to death of Finley. The boy’s clothes were covered in his saliva and feces.

Although they could see that he was in pain, his parents did nothing to help him. The two even kept social workers at bay saying they thought he had COVID-19, even though they knew it wasn’t true.

Judge Amanda Tipples called them “persuasive and accomplished liars”.

“You both knew Finley was very seriously ill and dying,” Tipples said. your care.”

ABC News

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